I’ve used Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator for as long as I’ve been a Mac user and that dates back to pre-Internet days.
I’ve spent thousands of dollars upgrading to the latest and greatest ‘suites’ from Adobe, great products loaded with features I seldom use. Is there a better solution?
I think there are plenty of affordable graphic design solutions that compete with Photoshop and Illustrator, the top dawgs of image and vector illustration design.
We’ve reviewed a number of Mac applications which seek to carve a niche in the design community, especially among those dissatisfied with Adobe’s behemoth pricing to match the behemoth feature sets (translate—takes forever to learn).
Enter VectorDesigner to grab some of the vector design spotlight from Illustrator. At a fraction of the cost, VectorDesigner gives your designs a new tool with a kinder, gentler learning curve.
I’ve come to appreciate the advantages of vector graphic tools, but I sometimes get overwhelmed by the complexity. In keeping with the design excellence and elegance from Apple, Mac360’s 2008 crusade is ‘Simple is Beautiful.’
Think of it as ‘Less is More’ but with a computing theme.
VectorDesigner is a vector graphics editor. While it’s simple to use, there are plenty of tools to help you with what used to complex graphic designs, but without some of the complexity.
First, think of what you need to do. Web design? Posters? Logos? Brochures? T-Shirts? Advertising layout? Second, what tools are there that can help you design what you need?
I really like the smart shapes in VectorDesigner. Stars, bezier curves, rounded rectangles, ovals, rectangles, plolygons. All are just a click away. There’s also tools which let you do the unthinkable. Combine shapes, subtract from shapes, and intersect shapes.
For the advertising and brochure makers among us, VectorDesigner plays nice nice with text. Constrain text along a path or within a specific shape, yet maintain the text editing capability to modify fonts, weight, color, and so on.
Everything is layer based and non-destructive, so you can edit, back up, edit again, and never lose what you’ve created up to that point. VectorDesigner has built in browsers for iPhoto and Flickr, so grabbing images and pulling them onto a layer is drop dead simple.
How good is VectorDesigner compared to Illustrator or Fireworks? Everything depends on your needs and experience, of course. There’s a reason VectorDesigner was awarded the Macworld Best of Show 2008 award. The value is obvious. Low cost, plenty of features, some of which are easier to use than those in Fireworks (can you say ‘rounded corner rectangles?’)
Elegance and simplicity are hallmarks of VectorDesigner’s interface. Open it up and you get a full page with a familiar Mac iLife-like toolbar at the top.
Click to add text, shapes, sketch, or edit a path. Click to adjust an element, click to add effects or import images.
Tools are the familiar pop up dark palettes you see in Pixelmator and iPhoto. Choose from the toolbar or drop down menus to insert elements, modify elements via filters and effects. The context sensitive Inspector looks like a palette of tools just waiting to be used. Files can be exported in a dozen different graphic formats.
Just as all of us at Mac360 were impressed with the Photoshop-like capabilities of Pixelmator, we’re very impressed with VectorDesigner as a substitute for Adobe Illustrator. Let the 14 day trial period be your guide.
It turns out that VectorDesigner’s publisher, TweakerSoft, has a number of other Mac software titles, all of which work on G4 and G5 Macs, and any Intel-based Mac.
Have you used Photoshop or Illustrator in your design work? Granted, they’re complex and feature laden. Have you found a need for a simpler and less expensive approach to your design needs? What tools do you find bring real value to your efforts? Talk Back to Mac360 and share your experience with other readers in the Comments section below.